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Mideast wary of Trump

Bahrain News
Thu, 10 Nov 2016

THE election of Donald Trump as the next US President has left uncertainty looming large over American allies in the Middle East, say commentators.

A “complete unknown” with “no experience”, Mr Trump made it difficult for experts to predict the direction of US foreign policy under his administration, according to Derasat research analyst Omar Mahmood.

However, GCC-US relations which were strained under the administration of outgoing President Barack Obama could be improved with Mr Trump in the White House, he said.

“So far it is hard to say anything,” he told the GDN yesterday.

Earlier the 70-year-old business tycoon and Republican nominee was elected the 45th US President, defeating his Democratic rival and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“Unlike Ms Clinton who is well known and experienced, Mr Trump has no experience on which we can base our assumptions.

“What we can say, however, is that this is an opportunity for Mr Trump to improve relations with the GCC and ease many of the tensions that arose during Obama’s administration.”

He said that Mr Trump could take a “hawkish” stance on the Iran nuclear deal and hoped his anti-Muslim rhetoric would be limited to his election campaign.

The GDN reported on January 11 that Bahrain was one of the seven countries suggested as possible destinations for anyone planning to leave the US if Mr Trump won.

The study by travel website was prompted by outrage at offensive comments by Mr Trump who last year proposed banning all Muslims from entering the US.

“Based on Mr Trump’s own rhetoric, he will have a much more hawkish approach and has even threatened to tear up the nuclear deal with Iran and retaliate against Iranian provocations towards US ships.

“What he will do is completely unknown.

“There is hope that a lot of his controversial rhetoric was just election talk.

“Mr Trump’s winning is a reality now and we have no choice but to try and work with a Trump administration.”

Gulf State Analytics Geopolitical and Security analyst Giorgio Cafiero backed Mr Mahmood’s views.

“It will require several months to fully take stock of how a Trump win will impact GCC-US relations.

“Nonetheless, the outcome is the source of much uncertainty and concern for many of Washington’s allies across the globe, including the Arab states.

“The relative decline of US influence in the Middle East began years before this election.

“However, with Mr Trump coming into the Oval Office in early 2017, the GCC will have even greater incentive to accelerate its geopolitical pivot to the East, away from the US.”

He said that a likely consequence could be the GCC seeking to strengthen its ties with other global powers in an effort to further hedge their bets in an increasingly multi-polar world.

Meanwhile, financial experts predicted Mr Trump’s victory to have long-term effects worse than Brexit on global markets.

However, Derasat International and Geopolitical Studies director Omar Al Obaidly called this “over-exuberance”.


“The dollar value plunge is a red herring; it will be back in one week. It’s just over-exuberance in the financial markets.

“Mr Trump’s election introduces a lot of uncertainty in the global markets, mainly for two reasons.

“First, he is a political outsider, so nobody knows what his true intentions are and who his established political allies are.

“This is very important for gaining Congressional support necessary for his economic policies. 

“Second, his proposed policies are incoherent in that they imply higher spending and lower taxes at the same time.

“They will probably need to be revised and it is unclear how he will revise them. Until then, the global markets will remain uncertain.

“One key area where he will have a big effect is energy policies, as he is supportive of the US oil industry and does not place high importance on environmental concerns.”

Mr Trump will assume office on January 20.